The return from winter break brought commuting Auburn students a new Tiger Transit app, SPOT, and a multitude of additions to the transits themselves.
The previous tracking program, DoubleMap, was introduced to Auburn’s transit program 3 years ago, according to Associate Director of Transportation Chris Harris. Harris and his staff found enough issues and received enough complaints from this app to seek change.
“DoubleMap wasn’t doing what we wanted it to do, and it wasn’t satisfactory for the student body. We weren’t giving them a good product,” Harris said.
In response to the issues associated with DoubleMap, Auburn University Transportation Services implemented a new app, SPOT, in January. The company behind this mobile program is ETA Transit, a transit asset management service and software company based out of Boca Raton, Fla.
According to Harris, SPOT is more cost-efficient to its predecessor, as well as superior in quality.
In addition to the new tracking program, the transits themselves were upgraded with multiple new features, including a “scrolling LED sign that matches the onboard voice announcements.”
“Whether you’re visually impaired or hearing impaired, you’re able to either see or hear the stop announcements,” Harris said.
Harris additionally said that these features “made us a little bit more ADA compliant.” The new auditory and visual features within the transits are also beneficial to students who lose track of where they are due to distractions, such as being on their phones.
The audio promotes a safer environment for transit users by playing safety messages. These messages include reminding passengers to cross behind the bus when exiting, and that the transits are only for those affiliated with Auburn University. The goal was to promote student safety and comfort.
The Tiger Transits also have upcoming additions that will reach a further audience than day-to-day riders. The transits are to be equipped with audio to make passengers’ game-day experience all the more memorable.
“It will actually say 'welcome to Auburn University game-day, and War Eagle',” Harris said. “Prior to kick off when the buses come in on campus, the bus will play the fight song.”
Although the transit system has gone through several changes over the years, Harris is especially excited about the direction in which these changes are taking the Tiger Transits.
“I’m just kind of really excited about the direction that we’re going with the new buses," Harris said, "and now this new tracking system that seems to be doing really, really well.”
As with any technology, there have been a few issues with the new programming — however, any issues are being monitored and improved on a day-to-day basis to ensure a consistent and convenient experience for Auburn students.
According to Hannah Nicholas, freshman in psychology, SPOT has made a positive difference in her daily commute to campus.
"I had problems in the past where the buses would be back-to-back, and then there wouldn't be a bus for 30 minutes," Nicholas said. "The transits are more on track because of the app, and the drivers are told if they're ahead or behind and they adjust accordingly."
The app change and new transit features seem to be benefitting the Auburn community by encouraging a smooth trip to and from campus.
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Kayleigh Freeman, freshman in journalism, is a news writer at The Auburn Plainsman.